CES is here, and this is going to be a fantastic year for audio and video gadgets. We're not expecting a revolution -- just loads of big TVs, plenty of good old-fashioned fisticuffs in the HD DVD/Blu-ray war and even better quality images on the TVs we'll be buying next year.
A new technology called "surface-conduction electron-emitter display" (SED) is our favourite long-promised tech that has so far failed to emerge. SED is, at least in theory, totally Mexico. Tellies using this technology look like CRTs that have been on a Slim-Fast diet: they have CRT-like image quality, along with LCD-like slender good looks, at what could be reasonable prices. Alas, SED isn't going to be making an appearance at this year's CES because of what looks like legal issues between some of the companies involved. Crave has high hopes it will be on show at CeBIT in March, though.
We also quite like the sound of laser TVs, loving the concept of there being actual lasers in our tellies, waiting, biding their time until they unexpectedly burst forth from the cabinet and destroy the known universe. If that doesn't happen, we hope that laser TVs will provide a performance boost for DLP rear-projection televisions. They should reduce the weight and improve the range of colours that can be displayed by rear-pro sets.
'Improved colour gamut' is a popular phrase this year, with Sony and Mitsubishi both promising to increase the colour range of our televisions. The downside is that movies and TV shows will need to be encoded in a different way to take advantage of this, so it will be a damp squib until broadcasters and programme makers catch on.
One of the things that has caused a lot of excitement in the Crave offices was LG's announcement that it will (despite spending ages denying it) be producing a hybrid Blu-ray/HD DVD player.
We can expect all the big boys to rev their lines at this show, with announcements already coming from the likes of Sony and Samsung. And of course, no CES would be complete without the now yearly battle to see who can produce the most gigantic television in the world. Early indications are that Sharp has managed to beat everyone else by making a 108-inch LCD TV, which will probably fit in approximately five houses in the whole of the UK. -IM